Arlington Poet Laureate

I’m honored to accept this position to advocate not just for poetry, but for all the literary arts in Arlington. Literature in general – and poetry in particular – has the power to build bridges, to create community, and to speak to and from the heart – and if there were ever a time when these skills were needed, surely, surely it is now.

— Remarks to the Arlington County Board, July 19, 2016



Swearing In Ceremony for County Board Member Libby Garvey, December 2016 (photo by Ryan Hudson). Video of the reading can be found here.


*Recent Developments*

After a lobbying campaign led by Robert L. Giron, Holly Karapetkova, Gregory Luce, Katherine Young, and Laura Saul Edwards, with further assistance from Embracing Arlington Arts and many others who wrote, called, or attended public hearings, on April 23, 2019, the Arlington County Board adopted an FY2020 budget that restored funding for all the literary arts programs lost in FY2019, including the Poet Laureate position.


On July 1, 2016, KATHERINE E. YOUNG began serving a two-year term as the inaugural Poet Laureate for Arlington, Virginia. The Poet Laureate “serves as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and works to advance Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms. The Poet Laureate represents Arlington’s commitment to fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and community participation.” The Poet Laureate has four specific duties:

  • Write at least two original poems in honor of occasions of special civic significance and present the poems at public readings;
  • Officiate at up to three County special events, as needed, by sharing an original work or presenting others’ words of reflection at civic events;
  • Facilitate two community engagement programs, working with Arlington Public Library and Arlington Cultural Affairs, to engage the public with poetry and the literary arts and bring poetry to a wider audience;
  • Serve as a juror for the annual Moving Words Poetry competition and contribute one poem to be displayed on Arlington’s ART Buses along with the winning poems.


With Wendy Mann 4 4 April 2017

Wendy Mann interviews Katherine Young for WERA FM’s “The Story Hour.”

Poems written by Arlington’s Poet Laureate to mark civic occasions:

“Women’s Work”

“Columbia Pike Blues”

“hush: unbutton sunset”

Read Kim O’Connell’s Arlington Magazine interview with Katherine Young about her work as Poet Laureate here.

Read Barbara Ruben’s article about Katherine Young and other DC-area laureates in The Beacon here.

Hear Wendy Mann’s interview with Katherine Young on WERA FM’s “The Story Hour” (April 2017):

See Yolanda Vazquez’s interview with Katherine Young on “Comcast Newsmakers”  (December 2, 2016) here.


Official Poet Laureate Events


World War I Reading at Central Library 15 March 2018 by Susan Mockler

Robert L. Giron, Holly Karapetkova, Richard Peabody, and Katherine Young read at “Poetry of World War I: A Commemoration” (photo courtesy of Susan Mockler).

Missed the reading? You can find Katherine Young’s partial bibliography for the poetry of World War I, including poetry about the war translated from many other languages, here: Poets of World War I.


Celebrating with Eve Nardone at the Student Moving Words reading, November 2017


If you’d like to invite Katherine Young to read or speak to your group or be a part of a program, please make your request here. Please be aware: the Poet Laureate’s compensation covers the time spent on the duties listed above. Arlington County does not cover the costs of the Poet Laureate appearing at events beyond her official duties. The County strongly recommends providing speaking fees or other compensation to poets for reading or presenting, whenever possible; paying artists for their work advances the arts and helps artists continue to be a part of our community and enrich our lives. Availability, scheduling, and compensation should be discussed directly with Katherine Young.


Katherine E. Young Induction1

With members of the Arlington County (VA) Board and representatives of Cultural Affairs/Arlington Arts and the Arlington County Libraries on July 19, 2016 (photo by Julia Karell)


Representing Arlington in Moscow and Novosibirsk, Russia…

…and at home (photos by Heidi Daniels, Cynthia Connolly, and Sarah Browning).


Reading of “Evening Storm, Ballston” at the laureate induction ceremony, Arlington County Board, July 19, 2016


Cancellation of Poet Laureate Program in FY2019

After my term as Laureate officially ended in July of 2018, I was informed that because of budget cuts and the need to direct staff attention to ‘other priorities,’ Arlington’s Poet Laureate position had been eliminated. Funding was also eliminated for the decades-old Pick-A-Poet program that brought poets into the classroom for thousands of Arlington Public Schools students, as well as the Moving Words program that brought poetry to the ART buses. Consequently, Arlington County is now providing NO direct funding to the literary arts in our community. If you feel as strongly as I do about these issues, please contact your elected representatives on the County Board, and please make a point of raising the question of funding specifically for the literary arts during this campaign season….
It has been a great honor and a remarkable pleasure to serve as your Poet Laureate. Thank you to everyone in Arlington who has supported this office and my tenure in it. From the County Board chamber to the Arlington Detention Center to book clubs and memorial services, many of you have told me how much poetry means in your life. Please share a poem with someone today — and let’s work together to keep poetry’s light shining in Arlington.

— Statement from Arlington Poet Laureate Katherine E. Young

%d bloggers like this: